Its official, men are not happy during this February month of love. It seems as if all this “nonsense” about celebrating Valentine’s Day, makes our men a bit edgy and nervous. My quick deep dive research, uncovered a myriad of accusations from the guys.
They maintain that girls are unrelenting in their demands for the good life on Valentine’s Day.
Apparently, girls want it all, and they want it now! The boys reckon that in these hard economic times girls should lessen their demands and moreover, not demand anything at all. One frustrated young man shouted “I married her didn’t, I?” Another remarked on how women were prone to celebrating a day that originated from “someone’s suicide”.
Another sore point was the choice of gifts from the girls. Men were not happy with receiving socks and ties all the time. On the other hand the women are said to demand the “whole works” chocolate, dinners red dresses, flowers, teddy bears new hairdos and nails done. But perhaps all men in the country, can take a leaf from my folk down in Manicaland. The guys refused to budge and simply ran the local florist shop out of business. All we have are flower suppliers.
In their defence, the girls ruthlessly shielded their position.
“It is their duty to look after us, and those black men should show a bit of romantic streak,” they exclaimed unapologetically.
Needless to say, behind that veneer of romanticism during this day, I know the guys will be bearing it like real men.
This year being a leap year, it’s the girls turn to treat the boys with gifts. As for me I will be watching it all, from my corner with a great interest reading a book I found in my church Library — ” The Devil’s Alphabet”.
Though Valentine’s Day is not a holiday, the business world has found an opportunity to commercialise that day. With regards to “cashing in”, Valentine’s Day comes very close to the “big three” (Christmas, Easter and Mother’s Day). According to the website, thebalance.com, Valentine’s Day has a huge impact on sales, making retailers a very happy lot indeed.
Statistics from the National Retail Federation, show that shoppers will spend US$20,7 billion more than they spent in 2019 on Valentine’s related merchandise. The website, sites statistics, from the National Retail Federation.
The website also adds that though shoppers still spend a lot on gifts, the Valentine consumers now value more fulfilling experiences. According to a MasterCard survey, since 2015, from February 4 there was an increase on money spent on air and travel with a 27 percent increase in hotel expenses.
So how can Zimbabwe cash in on this romantic adventure and shed their title of being the “saddest people on earth”? SMES with a leaning towards the “softer issues of life” can do well to plug into the romantic gravy train. Several businesses in this sector can thus be considered.
The rise of a
A perusal around the shops shows the usual chocolate, sweets brand, mostly imported from overseas. Zimbabwe needs a “high end” chocolate brand that can be exported to countries with a “sweet tooth”. The most popular gift on Valentine’s Day is candy. According to the National Confectioner’s Association in the United States, as many as 40 million heart shaped boxes are sold each year. SMEs can thus plug into this value chain by supplying and designing exquisite packaging or providing some of the condiments such as nuts. A good place to start is to grow macadamia nuts, a big favourite with chocolate makers.
At one point Zimbabwe exported flowers to many different markets in the world. Though export levels have certainly gone down, there is a huge market within both the African and the European market. I am happy to say that Zimbabwe is now a part of the African Free Trade Area (AFCTA). This opens up huge opportunities within the African continent in terms of increasing free trade. Flowers can be grown for export. SMEs can provide accessories needed to pack flowers for export for the flowers. Vases, and cellophane wrapping paper are just some products that can be supplied by SMEs.
A quick survey around town shows that our shops are laden with the same “sort of gifts”. And of course everything has a red heart shaped everywhere. It’s cards, (do people still buy those?) teddy bears, lingerie, and sometimes those plastic roses. But we are talking about a real gift shop with exquisite merchandise that people can buy from all year around when they feel that they want to surprise their loved ones on whatever special occasion.
Might it be Mother’s Day, father etc. this will be stocked with various items such as crystal glasses, vases, porcelain and a whole lot of other exquisite merchandise. In the same breadth SMEs can also explore customised jewellery using our very local stones. Besides ,“diamonds are a girl’s best friend”.
Dating agencies have become big business, and millions of people have found their true love on the Internet. No longer do guys need to climb trees to get a glimpse of their intended doing laundry in the river like they used to do in the old days.
These days love is just a click away. Pew Research Centre, found out that among the 2000 American adults surveyed, 15 percent had used online dating sites. These websites come with personality matches. Christians have also waded into the field. Christian Mingle is one of the biggest Christian dating agencies. SMEs should note that this business has low start-up funds but will need very efficient communication gadgets such as a good computer and phone.
Zimbabweans are serious readers. Last year I conducted a deep dive research on the types of books in our bookshops. Our bookshops are inundated with I call “The How to Conquer Life Books” — how to succeed, how to start up, how to be big and other similar titles.
Unfortunately, we do not have any real romantic novelists in Zimbabwe. I mean, clean inspiring love stories built on solid foundational marriage principles. I am a huge Karen Kingsbury, Francine Rivers, Danielle Steel, Catherine Palmer and Norah Robert fan. Norah Roberts is one of the most prolific romance novel authors. She has a net worth of US$390 million.
The movie industry has produced a lot of romantic story lines. My most favourite movie “One Night with the King” details the story of Queen Esther in the Bible. Beautiful story indeed. But other producers such as Larry Levinson have produced beautiful love stories too. His net worth is about US$6 million. You normally view these movies on your OVHD decoder.
Surely somewhere out there is a beautiful African love story just waiting to be adapted to the big screen? The movie value also has a lot of opportunities for the creatives. SMEs can be script writers, production companies, provide props and other services. A romantic talk show will also do well for the sad country.
Zimbabwe boast of a lot romantic tourist getaways. I, however, maintain that we are not making optimal use of this rich country and tourist places we have been given by God. Chalets, hotels, spas are a good way for couples to get away and “rediscover their love” Despite all our economic challenges the tourist industry is still booming.
Therefore SMEs are encouraged to take up some of these businesses. Indeed love makes the world go round and can make you rich. (A Joseline quote). Happy Valentine ‘s Day Zimbabwe.
Joseline Sithole is a founder of Southern Africa Development Consultancy and is reachable on 0773634062